Reinventing Rhythm

square vintage pocket watch propped between two blocks of wood

I’ve been ruminating quite a bit lately over how I let myself fall out of shape. I had went hard and strong for two years, from 2018 to 2020 and was very close to the top of my game, fitness-wise.

I had shaved off over 80 lbs. of grief weight that piled on after I quit smoking and was dragged through the 2017 deaths of my mother, my favorite cousin, and one of my dogs.

I had hit this welcome mania that I hadn’t encountered since my twenties. I was this blur of activity. I not only had my full-time day job as an information technology consultant and instructor at Oregon State University, but I had also jumped into my lifelong dream of owning a music venue.

I did not sleep much. I was up at 4:00 in the morning and out the door by 5:00 am so I could be on campus by 5:30, where I would power walk for half an hour before starting work at 6:00 am.

I would walk 500 steps at 10 minutes to the hour, every hour. A 45 minute walk at lunchtime. A 15 minute walk in the afternoon, then at 3 pm jump into the bathroom, change into my gym clothes, and head back to my hometown, where I would stop at the gym for a 2 hour workout before heading home, showering, and then driving a half hour up to Salem to work at my bar until midnight or one am. Then I would drive home in a blur to catch a couple of hours of sleep until I had to do it all over again.

I managed to do this for almost a year. The pace was breathtaking, but I was happy. I was 48, single, no pets, and my kids were all raised and independent. My schedule was my own, it was jam-packed, but I liked it that way.

I managed to handle things fine when Shotski’s failed. Despite feeling as if a gaping hole had been blown through my chest, I still had my day job. I still had obligations. I had moved up here to Salem, but I got an MVP package at my gym and was able to hit any of the locations between Albany, Salem, and Keizer.

I was still doing okay.

And then the pandemic hit. I was one of those fortunate folks who was able to shift pretty seamlessly into remote work.

Then I got involved with, and quarantined with, someone who cooked very well. And then, six months later, I got uninvolved with that someone, and the gym was still closed.

It was closed for over six months.

I had tried keeping up the tempo at home. I did yoga and calisthenics regularly. I walked a lot…but I also ate a lot because it was just me, cooped up in my little apartment with endlessly streaming Netflix and CBS News as my only company.

For months.

I got my doggo, Jack, right around the end of the pandemic. We did a lot of walking together, but it still wasn’t enough. I packed on about 40 lbs between 2020 and 2021.

I was overjoyed when the gym opened back up and I jumped right back in…only to end up with a slight tear in my left rotator cuff that sidelined me for a couple of months.

Then I developed this weird condition with my legs.

And then my department was reorganized at the university and I was launched into a newly formed department and a whole lot of uncertainty regarding what our department was intended to do and what my function in all of it was to be…especially given the fact that I was still doing the same work that I had previously.

And then I fell in love.

I spent a year rehabbing my legs, with spotty involvement at the gym when it didn’t hurt too bad, but there was nothing consistent. I gave up over this past summer and focused more on hobbling about, getting a lot of work done here at the house.

And then they decided to make me a business analyst at work…and shit got crazy busy and I shifted to 4-10 workdays.

You might be wondering where I’m going with this. So I’ll get to it.

As a reflect on how things have fallen apart for me, physically, over the past couple of years, I see how things have improved so much more for me relationship-wise and career-wise. It’s because that time that I used to focus exclusively on myself, was now going towards a couple of other equally important things in my life.

Some things had fallen out of balance.

Y’see, I’m good with schedules. A schedule provides a framework in my life that helps curb my never ending anxiety over things not getting done.

What I’m not good at is prioritizing my health needs when I have competing interests.

Whenever I tried to fit fitness back into the schedule, I would end up with family things to do, friend commitments, or work would edge out an hour or two longer in my workday to get in the way.

But check this out…I was looking at my schedule as this fixed, monolithic thing. Yoga in the mornings. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday afternoons in the gym. Friday and Saturday focus on cardio. Sunday, take a break.

It was the Monday-Thursday thing that was killing me.

When I started working 4-10s, it was great for productivity, and I loved having Fridays off, but I was seriously too damn tired for the gym on Monday evening…and that was always the first domino that would knock over the rest because if I can’t do Monday well then everything is just screwed up…and I would work myself into this weird state of inertia over the fact that Day One of my gym routine didn’t match up with Day One of my workweek.

Some recalibration was necessary. Some reframing. A reinvention of my rhythm.

For the past month, I’ve been doing yoga for an hour in the mornings before I start work at 6:00 am. It’s an excellent way to begin the day. I feel warm and limber and focused. Furthermore, my legs have been responding so well to it all. I’m actually feeling really hopeful about recovering from this chronic tendonitis issue.

I have now moved my gym days to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, which, I’m discovering, I really love. I can sleep in a little bit, until 6:30 or so, have a lazy breakfast, spend some time with Jack, put in an hour of yoga up in my office, and then be in the gym by 8:00-9:00 am in the morning, which is a perfect time for me to work out. This then gives me time to be able to have brunch with Alicia and/or our friends, and have the afternoons to do lawn work, or adventuring, or do nothing…whatever feels right for the day. It also gives me the space I need to move more, which keeps my joints and muscles from getting painfully stiff, post-workout.

My rhythm is starting to establish itself, but it’s learned how to be more fluid.

I’m pretty excited about where this is headed.

Published by Jonah Sheridan Fenn

Nerd herder, word wrangler, working on the next chapter...

2 thoughts on “Reinventing Rhythm

    1. Aw heya Sweet Baby Will!

      It’s been awhile since I’ve posted in here. Had to blow out the cobwebs and knock the rust off! ❤️

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